Climatesight has a post which is both fascinating and disturbing. It reports recent research that carbon emissions from melting permafrost may have a much bigger impact than had previously been accounted for.
Since there’s about twice as much carbon frozen into the permafrost as is in the atmosphere, this could be a real game-changer … and not in a good way. As climatesight says, “This paper went in my mental “oh shit” folder, because it made me realize that we are starting to lose control over the climate system.” By “lose control” she doesn’t mean that we ever had control over it — just that the natural mechanisms which have kept climate stable for 10,000 years or so will no longer be able to do so, or to prevent the kind of rapid shifts that spell disaster for the rats who live on earth (the two-legged kind).
Meanwhile, Joe Romm has a post from Neven reporting that the updated figures on Arctic sea ice volume are out from PIOMAS. Yes, this year shattered the old record. Here’s a bar graph of the annual minimum volume:
For those (like me) who prefer a time series plot, here it is of the same thing:
This year’s annual minimum volume is less than 20% the value in 1979. That’s right. Since 1979, the September minimum sea ice volume has decreased by over 80%. Yeah, I said over 80%.
Put that into the “oh shit” folder too.
The evidence is right before our eyes. The climate system is out of control. I don’t mean “our” control, we never had that, I mean out of control of its own self-regulating mechanisms. It’s changing in astounding ways, with frightening speed, and it’s going to get worse.
We are no longer in a position to consider the coming changes “acceptable” or even “tolerable.” Adaptation is not a viable option. The coming changes involve food and water shortages, and all the human conflict (like nuclear war) which that kind of strife induces.
The reason it’s changing is: us. We don’t have control, we never did, but we do have impact. So we have a choice. We can either act now, accept some pain while it’s still bearable, and reduce — dramatically — the pain in the long term, or we can continue the selfish path, sacrificing nothing, acting like a Hummer and a plasma TV are our God-given right, consuming like there’s no tomorrow. Guess what? If we keep this up, there won’t be.
Which choice do you think will actually occur?